Dear Dr. Bob,
Before the election everyone seemed to have pretty high hopes for Arizona’s Democrats. But when the smoke cleared, things didn’t look that good. Now what?
Dazed and Confused
You’re right, I think, to avoid all of the sweaty palms and self loathing that often accompanies a campaign season like the one just passed. There are, however, pharmaceuticals to help you deal with that if needed.
So lets look ahead, shall we?
The first lesson I must preach is this: You can’t launch a campaign 4 to 5 months before the election and expect to win marginal districts or races. Voters have become somewhat immune to persuasion messages as they are pummeled by them day in and day out month after month by business and political ads are just icing.
This is especially true of campaigns intended to unseat GOP incumbents. Think of it this way: You have a crazy uncle who should be put away. At a family gathering you raise the issue and suggest that uncle nut-job be immediately institutionalized.
If you think the family is going to support you on this, you need the drugs. You see, everyone might agree with you, but springing the idea on them at a family event and with such a short turnaround time is doomed to failure. To actually get uncle put away, you would need to do two things: 1) Begin the conversation about institutionalization long before the family event and 2) make sure your supporters are prepared at the family event to back you up.
Translated to political campaigns, Dr. Bob’s prescription is pretty simple:
1. Identify the crazy uncle(s) now, not 16 or 18 months from now. Its not that hard. Just look at the legislative districts voter registration figures. Rank order them by the difference between Republicans and Democrats. For example: District 1 +2% R District 2 +3% D, etc., etc. I usually consider anything with a difference of 10% or less something that can be won by either side given a good candidate and adequate funding. So, sitting here today, just a few days after the 2012 election, we can pretty simply ‘target’ the 2014 election, leaving things somewhat open to allow for unforeseen events. Indictments seem to be common these days…
For the 2014 statewide races, the same treatment applies: start now. You must be in campaign mode straight away. That doesn’t mean to announce your candidacy, just go meet everyone that needs meeting.
2. Put a permanent campaign structure in place now…and keep it operating forever. As with the crazy uncle, you can’t expect to win races unless voters have a long time to get to know you. That means they are are contacted regularly. I’d rather see four month outside campaigns operating with 50% less cash so that the other half can support the permanent campaign.
3. Publish the won-lost records of political firms operating in the state. There is no quicker way of ‘outing’ firms that seem to attract money and generally operate campaigns. Everyone really does need to have at least one losing campaign…it builds character. But continuing to hire firms or consultants that lose habitually is insane.
4. Take a ‘vacation.’ Okay, not everyone has the time or cash to head off to Hawaii or Europe right after a campaign whether won or not. Take a mental vacation from politics. Take up a hobby. Avoid watching cable tv news programs for at least a month. That should be sufficient time to detox.